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participate in the discussion. if you go on read president kennedy's remark, he won't take advice from anybody who has any faith. you take advice from everybody, people of faith and no faith. this is a very, very cold and naked public square is what he was describing. and it was very disturbing to me that he would take -- he would take a legitimate issue and then just take that one -- >> all right. so there you hear senator santorum responding to all of the criticism. we'll have more on this coming up later. that's it for me right now. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." the news continues next on cnn. good evening. i'm john king. tonight deadly tornadoes pummel communities from alabama to indiana. we'll track the severe weather throughout this hour. plus meet the law student rush limbaugh calls an slut and president obama labels a role model. and with $4 gasoline on the horizon, the politicians have horizon, the politicians have the same old bandering promises.
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-- captions by vitac -- tonight we're tracking a danger ouz tornado outbreak. powerful twisters across ohio, tennessee, mississippi, alabama and indiana where four deaths have now been confirmed. in kentucky a yellow school bus slammed into a building. its front half obliterated. in tennessee, homes are ripped from their foundation, splintered by the winds. at least six people critically hurt in that state. in alabama a trailer home lifted up and crashed upside down near a tree. the naked lot and a few stairs all that's left. and here's a power line crumpled like a paper clip. millions are affected and this is far far from over. we're keeping an eye on it all with the help of our cnn meteorologist chad myers in the severe weather center. chad, what are you watching right now? >> john, i'm watching 11 -- literally 11 states with a tornado watch in effect. i'm watching 21 tornado warnings. watch a short word, not quite as important, warning the bigger word. more letters. that's bad one. when you hear warning that's the
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one that means it's happening. so warning's happening now for ohio with tornadoes through most of kentucky, down through and just to the east of nashville, tennessee, and even into mississippi and alabama. that's how many states right now have tornadoes either a warning indicated by doppler or in fact on the ground at this point. so let's go state by state. we'll kind of zoom in here to the northern areas of kentucky, also southern ohio, marietta you're about to get a pretty good storm. it's just off to your west now. but us here to the east in the coal fields of kentucky seeing very big tornadoes. in fact, there is a -- the biggest tornado we've seen so far today. including the ones that we already knew that did damage in indiana. that's how big this storm is right now. we're going to continue to slide you on down here from about bowling green all the way down through richmond, indiana down through nashville. here's nashville, tennessee right there. another storm coming in.
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it is not a tornadic storm but there could be hail and wind damage. farther on down we're going to see this. john we don't see these things slowing down. usually around sunset storms begin to die off. they are not dying off yet. sun's still up in some spots especially central time zone. but later on tonight they will finally die off. it's just a matter of when. it could be midnight, it could be later than that for some spots. we'll be here watching it. but there are many tornadoes on the ground. if you hear the warning siren or if you just don't feel safe because that's a pretty bad storm, it could have a tornado on it at least right now take cover even if you don't hear a warning. get inside the room. wait it out 30 minutes, whatever it might be. these are big, big cells. >> and chad, you mentioned the time of day. as we get into night fall in much of this area, what additional, what different precautions should people take if they're watching us or their local news if they've got a weather radio. if they're outside and it's dark they may not see this coming. what should they be doing? >> the chasers don't see these storms as well, either.
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the spotter that is go out there, the emergency managers that are sitting on hill tops looking for them. when it gets dark you don't see them. sometimes the warnings aren't as fast. they're not as quick to come. because no one can spot this tornado. when you're driving in this there could be a lot of flooding going on. these are very big storms with hail coming down the size of tennis balls. trying to drive over that you're going to slide off the road. just like driving on ball bearings. you don't see the flooding in time your car could start floating down the creek. you think it's a road but it's not a road and you don't have time to stop. those are the big things still. at night, after dark, you do need that noaa weather radio to wake you up. even though sirens may be going off, they're not really made to wake you up inside your house. they're made to tell you if you're outside to go inside. that's all those sirens are for. so you can't count on those tornado sirens waking you up. you need to have that noaa weather radio. not too late to go with us.
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>> chad, thanks. the dangerous storms struck northern alabama where homes were half and, several injuries reported there. also the roof of a maximum security prison damaged. the governor of alabama robert bentley joins me on the telephone. governor thanks for your time on this night. i was just talking to chad about the dangers of keeping your eyes open, different precautions at night fall. in your state we have so many homes destroyed. how's your shelter situation right now? >> we have some shelters open up in north alabama where the two tornadoes came through this morning. but we have not had any south of those areas we have not had any tornadoes. we have some tornado warnings at the present time. but it's interesting that the april 27th tornado, that track and the track of the two this morning were the -- was exactly the same track. >> and we're just showing some live pictures from the coleman area of your state.
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you have these houses destroyed. am i correct luckily sir no fatalities today? >> no fatalities. seven injuries, 40 homes destroyed, 100 homes with major damage. >> the roof ripped off a prison. the security situation there in order? >> that's right. it's secure. we have it secure, yes, sir. >> and any big needs right now? or people on top of this pretty well? >> no. everything is under control right now. we're just waiting to go see what happens in the next few hours. >> all right, governor bentley of alabama, appreciate your time tonight, sir. we wish your state the best in the hours ahead as well and we'll continue to track these storms as they make their way across. we shift now to politics. president obama today upping the ante in a fight involving birth control, rush limb baurks and most importantly women voters. the president came to the defense of a college student who limbaugh labels an slut. democrats point to as the victim of what they like to call a republican war on women. our senior congressional correspondent dana bash spoke with her today. >> reporter: explosive comments
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even for rush limbaugh. >> what does it say about the college co-ed susan fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says she must be paid to have sex. what does that make her? it makes her an slut, right? it makes her a prostitute. she wants to be paid to have sex. >> sandra fluke is a georgetown university law student who appeared at a democratic event last week arguing the obama administration rule requiring free contraception is critical for women's health. we played limbaugh's comments for fluke. >> to hear someone like rush limbaugh with millions of viewers call you a slut. >> i think i probably felt -- well, i know that i felt probably the way many women do when they are called those types of names. initially hurt. and then very quickly upset and just outraged. because someone is trying to silence you. >> reporter: politically
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limbaugh played right into the democrat's play book, called gop opposition to free contraception a war on women. >> i rise this morning to say to rush limbaugh, shame on you. >> reporter: the house democrats' campaign committee tried to raise money from the issue. and democrats circulated a letter demanding gop leaders repudiate limbaugh. friday morning, house speaker john boehner did just that, a rare slap at a powerful republican mouth piece, with a dig at democrats, too. a spokesman saying "the speaker obviously believes the use of those words was inappropriate, as is trying to raise money off the situation." but limbaugh is hardly backing down. >> the woman comes forth with this frankly hilarious claim that she's having so much sex and her buddies with her that she can't afford it. and not one person says, well, did you ever think about maybe backing off the amount of sex
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that you have? do you ever think maybe it's your responsibility for your own birth control, not everybody else's? >> well, i would say that i don't think that the women of america find it hilarious. >> reporter: it's in the democrats' political interest to keep this story going. fluke even got a call from president obama. >> were you surprised to get a call from the president of the united states? >> yeah. it certainly wasn't on my calendar for the day. but i was happy to add that to the schedule. he thanked me for speaking out and being willing to do this and for helping to magnify the voices of women around the country. >> reporter: on the presidential campaign trail, mitt romney wouldn't answer a question about limbaugh. but rick santorum, who vehemently condemns the president's policy on contraception as an intrusion on religious freedom, he told wolf blitzer limbaugh is "being absurd." john? >> the congressional correspondent dana bash. the women's vote of course will be huge in the november election. our chief political correspondent candy crowley,
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host of cnn's state of the union is with us now. candy the democrats see this as a gift obviously. dana made the point jim acosta tried to ask mitt romney about this today and he kept walking by. "rush's vile appalling assault on sandra fluke deserves condemnation. how can people who call themselves leaders walk away"? >> the democrats will grind this into the ground. look, this started out the republicans thought as a winning issue on the rights of freedom of religion versus the federal government telling, in most cases, the catholic church, catholic church entities, that they must provide contraception. this has now become just totally turned on its head. we had members of the administration saying, we really botched that whole ruling. but now they must be jumping for joy. because the fact of the matter is that this has now become rush limbaugh calling some georgetown law student a slut. i mean, they just completely lost it. and you and i were talking
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earlier that i remember a time when michael steele ran afoul of rush limbaugh and had to back off. they're not going to do that now. >> they can't afford to back off right now. now speaker boehner who said today inappropriate. others would say he's not us, he's a performer, he's an entertainer, he needs to cause controversy. that's how he gets listeners and gins things up. however he is a powerful voice in the company movement. he can cause problems and issues for the party. in the 2008 election there were 70 million women voters, 60 million male voters. simple math there. and barack obama won 56% to 43% among women. they essentially split obama and mccain the male vote. >> women pick the winners. they absolutely pick the winners. that's why you see the democrats so all over this. i mean, this is just manna from heaven for them. in the last three months all four of the republican candidates except for ron paul have seen their numbers among women fall. >> and it becomes, look, this is an election about the economy. this is an election about the
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president's record at the presidential level. however, elections become about what's in the news at the moment. scott brown in a very tight he's running for re-election in massachusetts against elizabeth warren most likely a prominent liberal woman says "rush limbaugh's comments are reprehensible. he should apologize." he's jumping in. perhaps a little pressure to jump in. >> but the fact of the matter is, they have to put some distance with limbaugh. they can't really brush him off as an entertainer. first of all, he tends to dominate sometimes when republicans have meetings or whatever, rush limbaugh's listened to by so many republicans, they cannot afford to turn off women. and it's not a particular sentence, although what limbaugh has said is just so over the top. but it is not just a precise situation so much as a feeling of these are mean people, these are nasty people, and once that image is out there it's very hard to take it back. talk all you want about the economy. but if women have this sort of like what is the deal with them they walk away. >> you can have a conversation
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about is this the government's role or can you force insurance company to cover something. but prostitute? slut? >> no. they are crying up on capitol hill. it will be interesting to see what boehner does with the contraception legislation that didn't get anywhere on the senate side. >> candy crowley thanks for coming in tonight. elsewhere on the campaign trail, only four days to go until super tuesday the republican candidates concentrating on the biggest prizes among the 10 states that hold contests on tuesday. biggest prize ohio. rick santorum's lead slipping away as mitt romney gained ground over the course of this past week. santorum's 35% 31% lead. santorum retreated from a comment he's caught flack for all week. on saturday the former pennsylvania senator called president obama a "snob" for wanting all americans to go to college. here's what santorum told wolf blitzer just a bit ago. >> i used the term "snob." you know, it was a strong term. probably not the smartest thing. but i don't give prepared
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talking point speeches written by other people. i got a little passionate there and i used a harsher word than i normally would. >> newt gingrich today concentrating on his home state of georgia which he calls, rightly so, a must win on tuesday. at one point the former speaker labelled himself a change agent, not, he said, a team player. >> unlike governor romney i'm not going to washington to manage the decay. unlike senator santorum i'm not going to washington to join the team. i want to create a new team called the american people who force dramatic, bold change on washington. and i want to force washington to decide do you want to be on the american people's team or do you want to get fired and go home. >> governor romney will be in ohio tonight after an earlier stopped to out in washington state. republicans there caucus tomorrow. in seattle romney compared his approach to foreign policy with that of a famous democrat. >> i agree with -- well, going back to the days of harry truman. he said america must stand by our value and we must strong.
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our strength is not only in our military and our economy but also our willingness to link arms with our allies. those are the policies of strength that i believe are enduring and essential. [ cheers and applause ] >> checking in on some major international news now in syria tonight fresh evidence about the extent of the brutality against anti-government rebels. a rocket blast into an anti-government rally left 16 dead. have to warn you, it's hard to watch. >> the baba amar neighborhood hearing reports of excuse style killings as red cross trucks loaded with food and supplies were turned away by the regime. new photos sum up the desperation there, rising smoke. you see tanks and armored vehicles. red dots are hit buildings, yellow dots are impact craters. there are more than 1500 in just this one neighborhood. president obama says there's no silver bullet to stop rising gas prices. next we'll ask a former oil company president what's really behind the spike in prices at
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we're tracking deadly tornadoes and strong storms. officials confirm at least four deaths now in southern indiana. right now the storms stretch from ohio through kentucky, nashville, tennessee and south to the gulf coast of mississippi and alabama. the highest risk areas right now southern indiana, southwestern ohio, most of kentucky, and north central tennessee. those are pictures just in from nashville you're watching right there. hail hitting the ground in nashville. we'll continue to track this throughout the hour. today marks the 24th consecutive day gas prices are on the rise. the price at the pump approaches near $4 a gallon now. the partisan blame game in full swing. joining me now to talk about this the the former president of shell oil john hoffmeiser. the secretary of state is not on the ballot but she was testifying on capitol hill the other day. she said sure when you have diplomatic pressures standoff with iran that might put of the futures market. but she sees something else at play. let's listen. >> with respect to gas prices, i
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think there is room for considering ways to rein in speculation and gouging. yes, are there events that are happening in the world that raise questions? yes. but to the extent that it justifies or can explain the increase in the gas prices, i don't believe so. >> are the oil companies gouging? >> john, this problem has been growing year by year ever since five, seven years ago. from 2004 onward, we have seen the seasonality raise the price levels structure rally every year for the last seven years. that's not gouging. what the administration fails to look at repeatedly, and not just this administration but the previous administration as well, is the ever-rising demand for crude oil in the developing parts of the world. and those demands in crude oil are not being offset by rises in
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supply. we're the world's largest consuming country, and yet we only produce about a third of our own domestic resources to meet our local demand. we're the biggest culprit as a nation in not producing more domestic resources when we have more than we will ever need. >> the president would agree with part of that. but he would say he's now producing more domestically than was produced in the previous administration. listen to president on the road this week saying don't blame me. >> we can't just drill our way to lower gas prices. there are no quick fixes or silver bullets. if somebody tells you there are they're not telling you the truth. if we're going to take control of our energy future, which we have to do, if we're going to avoid high gas prices every single year, with a lot of politicians talking every single year but nothing happening, if we're going to avoid that then
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we've got to have an all of the above strategy that develops every single source of american energy. >> i assume you don't disagree with the all the above strategy. why don't we have one? >> well, the president has done nothing in three years to create a hydrocarbon plan for dealing with the need for increased domestic resources. it's fine to talk about a strategy. but a strategy is nothing without a plan. and there's been no plan brought to congress. the 111th congress did not pay us one page of legislation between 2009 and '10. this congress, the 112th congress, i don't think we're going to see any energy legislation this year. and this is a repeat, john, of what's been happening really if you go all the way back to richard nixon. it's really a disgrace of political leadership that the american people now have to pay so much when they are surrounded by such abundance. here's what i do. we used to produce 10 million barrels a day in this country in the 70s and 80s.
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let's go back to 10. he's right. we can't drill our way to complete independence. we use almost 20 million barrels a day. but let's go back to 10. then let's take this natural gas, let's use about 2 million barrels a day equivalent for trucking with compressed natural gas. let's turn natural gas into methanol which with flex fuel engines we could add another 3 million barrels a day equivalent. let's continue on the ethanol journey to get to 2 million barrels a day. suddenly we've we have 17 million barrels a day domestic fuel out of the 20 that we need. then let's do a deal with canada and mexico, our neighbors to the north and south, to meet the rest of our needs. john, we can tell opeq to take a hike. but this has to be part of a plan. and if the politicians don't set the policy in motion, it's going to be worse next year regardless of who's president, and the year following, and then we'll be in gas lines before we know it. >> john hofmeiser, appreciate your insights. this debate will continue for weeks and months as we go
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through this campaign year. thank you very much. in a moment we're going to continue tracking this hour's breaking news, the new outbreak of tornadoes from the midwest to the mid south. at least four now confirmed dead in indiana. up next that state's governor, mitch daniels, which join us live [ male announcer ] the network.
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back to tonight's dramatic breaking news story. you're seeing pictures here,
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major storm system putting several states in peril. tornadoes have come down in many states including in indiana where four people are now confirmed dead. the governor of indiana mitch daniels joins me now on the phone in indianapolis. governor our condolences for the deaths you've had so farpt what's your biggest worry at the moment? >> john, that the darkness will fall before we discover all those who may be trapped or otherwise suffering. we've we've got we think the best emergency response system in the country. great radio communications and a prewritten plan in every county. but still we've got all too much experience in indiana with these storms. and all the warnings and all the preplanning in the world aren't always enough to offset what mother nature does. >> you mention all that planning. and you are sadly used to this because of where you are in the country. and this happens from time to time. the national weather service meteorologist calling this outbreak "crazy".
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is it unusual both in the number of the storms and the force of the storms in your view? >> i'm no meteorologist. and despite as i say our frequent experience with this, i am constantly amazed by both the unpredictability and the ferocity of what mother nature can unleash when she chooses to. and you may recall we had a tragedy in our state fair just a few months ago this absolutely freakish blast of wind that claimed some lives. we've learned to be pretty humble out here about the way in which we mere mortals can prepare no matter how hard we try. and governor, you mentioned the urgent work under way by the heroes, the first responders, to find the missing as it gets dark. do you have a sense of how many are missing? do you have a good count? >> well, it's more apprehension than a count at this point, john. our best sense is that we know what the damage is, but we cannot rest until we know for
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certain there. they're still some collapsed structures. we want to make certain there's nobody in them that hasn't been accounted for yet. and so we're racing -- our people are racing the night fall. i'll be down there first thing in the morning. and until then i won't take an easy breath. >> and as they race against night fall, governor, in terms of future storms do you think you're in the clear or your state meteorologists telling you you could still have more damage as we get into darkness? >> my understanding is that we're due for some moderate weather for the next few days. and that's i guess a relief. but this is the midwest. and we've learned never to take anything for granted. >> governor mitch daniels of indiana. sir, we appreciate your time on a busy night for your state. god bless and our sadness and condolences for those who have been lost. we certainly hope the first responders have good luck in the hours ahead. thank you, sir. up next we'll take you to southeast tennessee where some neighborhoods are completely unrecognizable.
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in this half hour, breaking news coverage. deadly storms now going across the midwest and the south. there are at least five deaths reported tonight in indiana. ahead of a crucial visit from israel's leader, president obama has a new warning for iran" i don't bluff." also the truth about rush limbaugh's latest episode of name calling. it's a gift to the democrats.
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this is cnn breaking news. >> straight back to those deadly tornadoes and other storms ripping across the south and midwest right now. a very ominous sky in tennessee where we find our rob marciano on the ground about 20 miles from chattanooga. that sky right there looks quite ominous. what else are you seeing? >> reporter: with the leading edge of a cell that's going to take dead aim at chattanooga proper, we've already had one come through earlier today that did a tremendous amount of damage. we'll show you some of that video. we had to evacuate that neighborhood all non-essential personnel were asked to leave because of the upcoming storms and the need to clear out and get the people, the victims out of that neighborhood. several homes, 40 to 50 homes in total damaged or completely destroyed. we have nine to ten people being treated at area hospitals. 15 people treated on the scene. and search and rescue operations are ongoing with the exception of right now. because everybody's been told to take cover until this particular cell passes. i can tell you that if there's
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going to be a tornado dropping it will be out of this section of the storm. there is no warning on this cell but it's showing a little sign of rotation. we had another scare about two hours ago, so we're in a warm air mass ahead of the approaching front that may very well bring us some more rough weather here. so i'm going to cut this live feed relatively short here. >> we're taking some hits on rob's feed. if you need to get to safety get to safety. chad myers is tracking this very storm that rob's talking about. chad, take us there. >> well, we just got a republic report of the tornado on that storm near eastridge. rob is a little bit farther up i-75 from here. but the tornado far and -- he would be blocked from being able to see this tornado from his location. that's why it's so dangerous to be in the wrong place when you're trying to tornado chase or be outside. rob here wouldn't be able to see it because he's have had to look through the hail core to get there. reported near i-24 just to the
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southeast of chattanooga. this is a classic signature of what a tornado cell looks like. right there, the hanging down right there, the comma right there and then red and the green back and forth together. when you see them together that means winds going one way and wind going the other way. the only way that happens is if a tornado is spinning that weather around. that's what's happening right now about four miles south of rob marciano's location. i did southbound him an e-mail so he's going to be in good shape. they'll get inside. from montgomery southward, seeing now alabama start to light up. mississippi light up. for most of the day it was indiana, kentucky and parts of tennessee. now these southern states are getting the tornado warnings going. now that the heat of the day is gone, they may start to calm down a little bit. but we're still in the warm part especially central time zone. it's only 5:30. this is still the hottest part of the day, the hottest part of the day is when the weather is the most violent. another storm that was in west liberty, kentucky, where the tornado on the ground with
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officers injured according to the report has now moved over the state line and into west virginia. this has been a long, live tornado on the ground for a very long time. and at least 150-mile-per-hour tornado on the ground there. a little bit farther on up into ohio things are calming down. still raining, thunder and lightning and some wind but no tornadoes on the ground right now in ohio as that weather moves away. as it moves by you you're done. but for right now there's a lot of people that are still in it. >> chad will stay in the weather center all night long tracking these storms if necessary. we're sure rob and his crew got to safety. if you live in any of these areas please stay with us, get your local weather radios. do not try to be a hero out there in this crazy weather. let's move now to important overseas stories. president obama says he doesn't bluff when it comes to iran. three days from now he'll met the israel president benjamin netanyahu. tension is building over the best path forward, should it be
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diplomacy or military mussel? >> let's get a first-hand account of how the president views this and meeting with prime minister netanyahu. he had a conversation with the president in advance of the netanyahu visit. i want to start with what i'll call the trust deficit in this relationship between president obama and the prime minister. he told you this. this is pretty straight up. " i think the israeli government recognizes that as president of the united states i don't bluff. i also don't as a matter of sound policy go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. but i think both the iranian and israeli governments recognize that when the united states says it is unaccept obl for iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say." pretty clear language there, jeffrey. yet if you talk to the netanyahu side they're not quite sure what the president means, are they? >> well, i think this probably moves the ball a little bit in the direction they want to see it go in. but you know, the president is not going to give them a date and a time and a set of conditions in which he will absolutely definitively attack
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iran. i think anybody reading that language, reading the plain meaning of that language, understands that what the president is saying. and he's boxing himself in a little bit with that language. he's saying that there's no way i'm going to allow iran to go nuclear. and in this interview with me he actually did say explicitly that when he says all options are on the table, he includes a military component. that was the line, a military component to that expression all options are on the table. so it's a toughening up of the language, i think. >> a toughening up of the language. i found this language fascinating to describe this relationship with prime minister netanyahu, the president described it to you as "very functional." this is one of the strongest, most important alliances in the world." very functional does not sound very personal. >> right. well, i had said, listen, i heard that your relationship is pretty dysfunctional. so he was coming back with functional. then i asked him, i said, so are you guys friends? and he basically said, look, we're all so busy with our jobs
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that it's -- he gave a kind of an answer which was a true answer, suggesting that they can do business together but there's not a lot of common ideology or common background. >> any doubt from your conversation with the president of what the united states would do if israel set aside the advise the chairman of the joint chiefs, general dempsey has been out there, the president has been clear in this conversation with you he doesn't think now is the time for israel to strike. if israel were to strike it would need some help from its friend, wouldn't it? >> it might need some help. it might be able to do the actual strike alone. but remember, america is engaged in the missile defense of israel already. america's engaged obviously in supplying israel with arms and weapons. there's an interesting political dynamic to this, which is that this is the only area in foreign policy that the republicans think president obama is vulnerable in. and the republicans obviously have been very forthright about saying, we think that there
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should be military action against iran to stop their nuclear program. so until november, at least, it's going to be a little bit difficult for the president to be critical of israel for doing. this but there'll be severe consequences for america if israel does. this iran could retaliate against the israeli strike by hitting american targets. so there's a very, very complicated dance going on. and this meeting that the two men are going to have, netanyahu and obama, is really the most consequential meeting that they've ever had. it might be one of the most consequential meetings that barack obama will have had in his entire presidency. >> i think that's an excellent point. it's a fascinating conversation. jeffrey gond berg with the president of the united states. you want to see "the atlantic" to get the full story. jeffrey thanks for your time today. still ahead the truth about what rush limbaugh accomplished by calling a georgetown university law student a slut and a prostitute. later a company known for low-cost home furnishings says wait a minute, we aren't going that far. [ woman ] we take it a day at a time.
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georgetown university law student sandra fluke got a phone call from the president of the united states today. >> and i think he, like a lot of people, feels that the kinds of personal attacks that she's -- that have been directed her way are inappropriate. >> now for that call, fluke can thank rush limbaugh. but here's betting there's not a thank you note forthcoming. it's not that fluke doesn't have manners, it's because the
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booming voice of the right didn't mind his. >> what does it say that the college co-ed, susan fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. what does that make her? it makes her a slut, right? >> well, here's tonight's truth. limbaugh didn't just cross a line, he crashed it. and he did it just as most smart republicans were looking for an end to election year attention on contraception and the government's role in women's health issues. calling someone a slut is more than a little extreme. and limbaugh didn't stop there. >> so mississippi floouk, and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal. if we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex we want something for it. and i'll tell you what it is. we want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.
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>> attention for democratings who see a republican war on women. nor senator chris chang gillibrand called it "one of the most vile tirades against women i've ever heard." house speaker john boehner through a specsman says the use of those words are inappropriate as is trying to raise money off the situation. the truth is the immediate fundraising is a little crass. but par for the course in today's politics. if limbaugh hadn't crossed the line, democrats wouldn't have the material for their fundraising letters or the political opening to put the president on the phone. but mark limbaugh down as unimpressed. >> obama just called sandra fluke to make sure she was all right. oh. that is so compassionate. what a great guy. the president called her to make sure she's okay. >> unimpressed he is with speaker boehner's response too, it seems. >> boehner did respond. he said something like the words
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i used were inappropriate as is the whole discussion about the government paying for people's contraceptives. >> now we all know rush likes stirring up trouble. and truth is he's pretty good at it. and he's right that whether the government should be involved in paying for contraception is a perfectly legitimate public policy question. but in this case he's outrageous language handed president obama and his fellow democrats a gift. truth is limbaugh would have benefitted from listening to this recent advice for another of the right's most provocative rabble rousers. >> keep your eye on the prize, right wingers. the only question you should keep asking yourself is who will have the most appeal to independents, to undecideds, to my gender. >> joining us now to talk truth, gop strategist and romney adviser and democratic strategist, and former bush speech writer. i want to start down at the end. having a question about should a
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private insurance company be forced to cover this, should the government be forced to cover, this people that have their views on this it's a legitimate question. language like that, a prostitute, a slut? >> are harsh. way too harsh. i couldn't agree with you more. but rush is an entertainer. here does outrageous things. he says he's also a genius. and he's able to see right now what the democrats are trying to do is come up with an issue to kind of use a wedge, issue to split women away from the republicans. he's exposing it as a fraudulent issue. in that regard -- >> is he exposing it or helping it. >> he is exposing it because when you look at this gal, here's a girl, she reminds me of the spoiled teenager. i want to do things my way and you've got to pay for t. it's ridiculous. she knew ahead of time when she went to georgetown that the health care did not cover contraception. she gets in there anyhow. she chooses that skoompt she complains and whines and says they have to pay for it. if the school won't pay for it, the taxpayer has to pay for it.
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this is ridiculous. she comes across as absurd in my opinion. i think that's what rush is basically exposed. >> it's clearly not a ridiculous argument. in fact, the majority of women in this country, 99% of women have taken contraception. the majority of independent women support the president's position. the problem is to your point, john, it is a legitimate public policy argument to have, but when rush limbaugh uses that kind of language, it takes the civil debate completely off the table. she has her opinion, i have mine, but the american people are no longer listening to that. >> this is a dangerous conversation for men, period. but in a sense to base point. to base point. rush could have said this is a democratic show hearing. that was a democratic event she was testifying at. he could have made the point she went to georgetown, a catholic institution. she should have known all of this. this is america, we can debate anything, but isn't the language there when if we have a 50-50 presidential election, math
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tells you and history tells you moderate women in suburban america tend to decide those elections, isn't that a gift? >> she's right, this was a trap. one of the things you don't do with a trap is jump into it to test if there are spikes at the bottom and then throw a hand grenade on your own head to show how big a mess of yourself you can make while in the trap. the democrats are the party hero on offense. the historical status quo was the american state and the federal government offered catholic church large scope to do its good works of drug rehabilitation, providing health care, education. in light of its teachings. if you don't like that, there are other institutions that did it a different way. that was the status quo. these conscientious things were protected with the plan of 1993. obama was on the initiative. he was changing the rules. the republicans were on the defensive saying we're going to defend the way things have always been. you can do that without insulting anybody. and it is an example of how
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although people talk about limbaugh as a republican spokesman, he has his own agenda. it is not good for him if the republicans win in 2012. his business has been better since 2008. >> better in the opposition. >> way better. >> he has put this front and center now in our politics. of course what happens every candidate gets asked about it. scott brown sends out a tweet. wolf blitzer asked rick santorum, he said this. >> being absurd. an entertainer can be absurd. he's taking the ash suffered sort of point of view here as to how far do you go. look, he's in a very different business than i am. >> he is in a very different business than he is, but he is a leading spokesman for the right. a lot of people view him not as a spokesman for the party or a voice of the party. jim acosta tried to ask him and he didn't take the question. that's smart and you don't get
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into the middle of it but on the other hand you have to say something. >> no, you don't. >> you disagree? there are a lot of conservative voters who might agree. >> the key here, rush has made this point, contraception is not an issue. it is cheap and available across the country and my 30 some, 40 years in politics i have never heard a woman say to me, i can't go to the right because they're going to take away my birth control pill. this is created out of thin cloth because the democrats know that if they go in the general election and the issues are what they are today, which is clearly the economy, jobs, outrageous spending, they will know that they have a failed candidate on their hands because he has failed the american people on these key issues. so they are coming up and have created another issue that they can throw out there and say, look, frighten women to think we are way right wipg, we actually even come into consider this. this issue has never been part of the public dialogue as long as i know until george stef if a nap poe louse throws it into debate. all republicans were like, what
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was that about. now we know. >> but just because it hasn't been an issue before doesn't mean it isn't an issue because access to health care for women has always been an issue. this is part of that. >> or if the other guy's make an issue how you handle it determines how it gets litigated. >> there are lots of ways -- when candidate romney does not answer the question, that's one good way to deal with dumb questions. i mean, the status quo here is traditional. it goes back a long time. it is the republicans who are defending the status quo. birth control will remain available. you don't have to be provocative. the inability to stand up -- >> it's a problem for republicans when they call him an entertainer and leave it as that. he is a king maker in republican politics. >> i don't know that he's a king maker. thanks for coming in. remember to join us super tuesday noon eastern. our election panel will answer
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your question from cnn ireporters. we'll explore questions you care about. go there noon eastern. super tuesday, four days from now. next a popular home furnishing companies denies reports that they'll start to sell you the homes to put their furniture into. if there was a pill to help protect your eye health as you age...
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